B+ Sound: B+ Extras: D Film: C+
1940s, Orson Welles wanted to make The Shadow in a feature film, having already
played him on radio and Columbia made a half-hearted serial instead. Before Universal had the rights with another
party by 1994, Sam Raimi wanted to bring the forerunner of Batman to life. Instead, he took that script and converted it
into Darkman (1990) giving him the
beginning of his new commercially viable era as a filmmaker the studios started
to see they could bank on.
Neeson is Dr. Peyton Westlake, creator of a new synthetic skin that could
forever revolutionize plastic surgery and much more when his lab is attacked
and he is nearly killed. To get revenge,
he takes the formula and begins to assume other identities for revenge on those
who must pay. With parts
Batman/Clayface, the Martin Landau Mission:
Impossible, the FX films and
anything else Raimi can fit in that makes sense, it is a decent romp for its
age and what became a franchise with some edge no matter how brief it ran. Raimi and Spider-Man fans will especially want to see this one and can go a
few rounds with the three films (and counting?) in the web series. Frances McDormand and Larry Drake also star.
VC-1 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is one of the better-looking
Universal back catalog titles in the format, though the film’s rough optical
printing and other visual effects (though stylistic) have aged the film a bit,
but they are not as obnoxious as bad digital effects at their worst. Bill Pope’s cinematography is a plus,
especially when seen as clearly as it is here.
The original theatrical sound was Dolby A-type analog sound, but Raimi
made the best of it, while Danny Elfman turned in one of his less predictable
scores. Upgraded to Dolby True HD 5.1,
it is pretty decent, with fewer flaws than expected and about as good as this
is ever going to sound, though lesser Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is also includes,
but there are no extras. Next, Raimi is
supposed to finally get to do The Shadow as a feature film. We’ll see how it compares.
- Nicholas Sheffo